A Philippines lawyer has formally complained to the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing President Duterte of crimes against humanity. The complaint regards the ongoing widespread murders of Filipino citizens as part of Duterte's self-declared anti-drug and anti-corruption campaign, which has reportedly resulted in the deaths of several thousands of civilians. The lawyer, Jude Josue Sabio, cited the confession of one of his clients, a member of a "Death Squad" that alleged he had committed some of the murders under Duterte's direction while Mayor of Davao City.
Mr. Sabio's complaint does indeed have merit. According to the ICC, a crime against humanity has occurred when the perpetrator has committed murders constituting a targeted "widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population." It is clear that Duterte's alleged actions would constitute a systematic attack, as the President openly ran his election campaign on the promise of eliminating corruption and drugs from the Philippines. Additionally, Mr. Sabio accused at least 11 other government officials of being involved in the scheme, and alleged that the Philippines' police forces were also openly complicit in the deaths, further emphasizing the methodical nature of the mass murders.
President Duterte has previously stated that he is unafraid to face the ICC, declaring: "I will deliver on my promises, even if it would cost me my life, my honor, and the presidency." Such commitment to eradicating corruption and drugs throughout the country has led to his continued support among Filipino citizens. Polls indicate the majority of the country still has faith in his actions, including young citizens who claim to hold progressive, anti-violent views. Some even believe that the killings and violence have been tremendously exaggerated by the "elite-controlled mainstream media" in an effort to regain power from Duterte.
It is possible that such widespread support is what makes the referral of the situation to the ICC necessary in the first place. Since the ICC is a "court of last resort", it will only prosecute in situations where the government is unwilling or unable to do so itself. This would clearly be the case with President Duterte, with the lack of internal pressure from Filipino citizens to end his scheme as well as his democratic election enabling him to claim legitimacy for his actions.
The ICC has yet to formally accuse Duterte of crimes against humanity, if it will even do so. However, even simply having the formal complaint filed against him brings attention to Duterte's alleged extrajudicial killings, and hopefully will help achieve justice for the over 9,000 Filipino victims to date.